A Passion for Pumpkins

Betty Hickey started growing pumpkins to entertain her grandchildren in 1993. Now, 19 years later, her farm on Caldwell Hill Road in Marshall County yields thousands of the gourds annually that she sells to the public and local stores.

Located about 8 miles from the Elm Grove section of Wheeling off Big Wheeling Creek Road, the Pumpkin Patch offers people the opportunity pick their own pumpkins from Hickey’s field. Those who don’t feel like traversing the acreage can choose from already-picked pumpkins beside the barns.

”I enjoy it. The kids have a good time,” Hickey said. ”It’s good for them and educational – they see how they grow.”

Hickey’s son, Glenn Hickey, said the farm has the ability to produce 12,000 pumpkins during one growing season, though not all of them will survive to be sold. In addition to fighting insects as they must every year, Glenn Hickey said this summer’s crop was nearly a total loss because of drought-like conditions.

”One rain saved us. If we hadn’t gotten that one rain, we wouldn’t have had pumpkins like this,” he said.

Over the years, Betty Hickey has learned what varieties of pumpkins grow best on her farm.

In addition to the standard orange pumpkin, they also grow white pumpkins and those with names like ”warty thing,” ”big moose” and ”swan gourd.” They also sell miniature gourds, ornamental corn, cornstalks and straw bales.

”We’ve never tried to grow huge pumpkins like they do in Barnesville,” Glenn Hickey said, referring to the annual King Pumpkin contest held during the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival that runs through Sunday. The annual pumpkin weigh-in will be held tonight on the streets of Barnesville, with the festival’s opening ceremony to take place Thursday.

Hickey noted each year she hosts a Marshall County Head Start class and gives each child a pumpkin to take home. In addition to her farm, her pumpkins also are sold at the Elm Grove Riesbeck’s, the Marshall County Co-op, Knights Farm Supply and are featured in decorations during the Ohio County Country Fair and Boo at the Zoo at Oglebay Park.

The Pumpkin Patch is open daily from 1 p.m. until dark.